As new technologies develop, so does the potential for the misuse of that technology, and accordingly, so does the need for law enforcement to find ways to counter that misuse. One such technology that is seeing more and more widespread use — and misuse — are remote-controlled drones, aerial devices that can be sent into sensitive areas, such as airports or public events that are subject to heightened security. But how do police combat machines that can effectively stay out of reach of their otherwise earth-bound personnel?
Police in the Netherlands have responded to this unconventional problem with an unusual, yet innovative solution: to train eagles to hunt drones that have been sent into restricted areas. Trained by the company "Guard from Above", these white-tailed eagles are already well accustomed to snatching prey from the air. Now trained to recognize mechanical drones as prey, they receive a piece of meat after retrieving their mechanical targets.
"It’s a low-tech solution to a high-tech problem," according to the Netherlands’s national police spokesman Dennis Janus.
The welfare of the raptors is an obvious concern, and is being studied by a 3rd-party research institute. The birds’ talons are otherwise covered in hard scales that typically protect them from any defense their natural prey would put up while hunting in the wild. Otherwise, they appear to be resilient to any damage that could be caused by the blades of most consumer-grade drones.
"People sometimes think it’s a hoax, but it’s proving very effective so far," remarks Janus.